Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Report

Motion: That the report of the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner in relation to the former Member for Simcoe—Grey, presented by the Speaker on Monday, September 19, 2011, be referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs and that the Committee study the report with a view to further investigate the Commissioner’s findings in order to resolve outstanding questions; and that the Committee report its findings to the House no later than six months after the adoption of this motion.

Mr. Speaker, I am persuaded by the argument of the hon. member for Timmins—James Bay that these issues are not moot.

The former member for Simcoe—Grey was not re-elected. I think Helena Guergis’ name was shabbily treated by people in her party in the way in which she was vilified and basically thrown to the RCMP for criminality when those charges were clearly false.

The reality is the conflict of interest and the use of the role of lobbyist by a former MP. There is a tremendous amount here that could use clarification for future guidance to clean up our roles and ensure the ethical behaviour of members of Parliament and former members of Parliament who continue to use the offices of their friends to advance business interests. The hon. member is quite right.

I ask for his view as to whether this issue could go forward even if the previous members are no longer in the House.

Mr. Charlie Angus: Mr. Speaker, we should have stated clearly at the beginning that everyone knows Ms. Guergis was made to be a political scapegoat for this party. The Ethics Commissioner pointed that out in the opening statement of her document where she talked about the Prime Minister contacting her about his allegations to the RCMP. We never even heard what those allegations were. There is an obvious sense that she was thrown under the bus.

However, out of this study there are clear questions about whether people are able to fly under the radar of the Lobbying Act and open doors for their friends. There is certainly a sense in Ottawa right now that the Conservatives are open for business with their buddies and that is done in the backrooms.

This report came out. We were dealing with this issue just before the last election, but these issues have not been solved. We need to take this to committee. We need to look at the role of the Lobbying Act. We need to look at whether the Ethics Commissioner has the ability to ensure that the light is shone in the dark recesses of that Conservative gang over there.